December 22, 2020

Today’s guest is Alex Lintner, Group President of Experian Consumer Information Services, which provides credit reporting services to lenders throughout the world.

This is Alex’s second time on Barefoot Innovation. The last time, we were talking with LendUp’s Sasha Orloff about credit scoring innovation. In today’s show, we’re talking about credit scoring transformation. 

Why the difference? It’s the same reason so many other things are transforming this year:  the pandemic. When the world changes overnight, you can’t accurately assess risk by using data from the past. You need current data, and you need it often. And in this pandemic, to evaluate credit risk, you also need data and tools that address the widely varying situations that people are facing. Starting in March, therefore, Experian has responded to the crisis by accelerating its release of new tools to deliver data to lenders at speeds that were never possible, until now.

In our conversation, Alex shares insights on how the world plunged this year to digital, real time commerce, for people of all ages and backgrounds. He explains the trends we’re seeing in consumer debt and savings -- some of which are counterintuitive. He talks about the urgent challenges facing borrowers in different circumstances, creating the need for lenders to take a surgical approach to consumer and small business lending amidst the crisis, with accurate data being the key.

No one is in greater need of new tools than consumers who have low credit scores or thin credit files. Alex describes how Experian launched new products for them, including one built on access to applicants’ banking accounts to enable the contribution of monthly telecommunications, utility and streaming service payments for those who want their scores updated. He describes really impressive impacts in expanding credit access.

These kinds of moves into “alternative data'' offer a key to the future of financial inclusion. They enable accurate risk assessment of millions of creditworthy borrowers who have been screened out by more traditional tools that use less information. I chair the board of FinRegLab, which has done important research finding that using new kinds of data can expand credit access with no loss of accuracy on how the loan will perform, and sometimes even with accuracy improved. Alex paints a picture of how we get to a more inclusive future financial system, based on data. He talks about how to assure that AI tools are explainable and not biased, how to meet the needs of regulators, and how to accelerate cycle times from analytics to production. He also discusses using these same kinds of tools to detect online fraud, and especially synthetic fraud -- as Alex says, “Frankenstein ID’s -- whose rapid growth has unfortunately been another unwelcome effect of the pandemic.

Alex shares his experience of being an immigrant himself to the United States. You’ll enjoy his story of how hard it was to establish credit, and also his observation that what we in the US call “alternative data” is, in other countries, just called….data, because the traditional credit history information was never there.

You’ll also enjoy his story about the roots of Experian, which began over a hundred years ago with a merchant offering credit to his customers based on what he knew about them. Today, using more and more rich information, and working scrupulously to keep out bias, we’re on the verge of having a financial system that is more accessible and fair than has ever been possible before.

More on Alex

As President of Experian’s Consumer Information Services business, Alex is responsible for overseeing Experian’s US consumer credit bureau, the nation’s largest credit bureau, and the Consumer Information Services business for Experian globally, which includes 23 credit bureaus around the world. Alex is responsible for all aspects of Experian’s consumer credit services business, including the quality of data and the breadth of data assets — which determines how much of the population can be scored accurately — as well as delivery and management of credit risk data. His business drives innovation focused on new technologies and productivity enhancements and supports many of Experian’s direct-to-consumer initiatives.

More for our Listeners

Please follow AIR on LinkedIn and Twitter, and also follow me personally on Twitter @JoAnnBarefoot. And please be sure to leave us a five-star rating on your favorite podcast platform.

We have one more show coming up in 2020, and it’s one of our best ever — my fascinating conversation with Intuit founder Scott Cook. In the new year we will have wonderful guests:   Nathaniel Harley of MANTL, Susan French of BBVA Product, Chris Giancarlo and Daniel Gorfine on the Digital Dollar, and Rob Nichols, President and CEO of the American Bankers Association, among others.

As we come to the end of 2020, I’m looking back at participating in so many terrific conferences. Many of these sessions are captured on video, including Lendit Fintech Digital, Global Fintech Festival, Aite Group’s Financial Crime Forum, DC Fintech Week, Central Bank of the Future Conference, Fintech Abu Dhabi, and many more. One positive aspect of 2020 is that I have been able to “meet” so many people from all over the world in virtual sessions, and have learned so much from each and every one.

Also, in case you missed it, this week AIR hosted a webinar on Community Banks & Innovation — Helping Small Banks Compete in the Digital Age. The conversation included acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks, FDIC Chief of Staff Brandon Milhorn, ABA CEO Rob Nichols, and ICBA CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey, along with leading community bank CEO’s and the core technology firms serving the banking industry. You can watch the webinar here!

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